UMCH Pediatric Emergency Department to Break Ground

confettiWishes do come true—with community support. The renovation of the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) is officially under way. Donors, Children’s Hospital Board members, and staff gathered Tuesday for a confetti-filled ceremonial groundbreaking.

“[Tuesday’s] groundbreaking, though not of a new building or a new wing, is every bit as important,” said Steven J. Czinn, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) and director of UMCH. “The minute patients enter, they will be welcomed into a brand-new space, equipped to address their immediate needs.”

The Pediatric ED will become a more private space for triaging children and adolescents who are experiencing a mental health emergency. “This renovation will enhance the care offered to children who enter here suffering from anxiety, abuse, and addiction,” said Bert O’Malley, MD, president and CEO of UMMC.

“Triaging a child in the midst of a mental health crisis is different from caring for a child who has a physical injury or illness—and the environments must be different, too,” said Sarah Edwards, DO, associate professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at UMSOM and director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UMMC. “The renovated space will provide a calming setting to help stabilize patients more quickly, whether that’s through de-escalation, activating medication, observation, or a combination.”

Financial support from multiple donors came together quickly, propelling the project toward reality. “Not your usual grant process,” said George “Chip” Doetsch III, chair of the Children’s Hospital Board of Visitors. “This project is an example of what can happen when organizations and individuals identify a need and bond together to make a difference. As a result of such collaboration, funding for this renovation was completed in just one week.”

Structural renovations are expected to cost about $600,000. SECU Maryland, the state’s largest credit union, on behalf of its philanthropic arm, SECU MD Foundation, pledged to underwrite a significant portion of that sum with a donation of $100,000. “SECU’s response was overwhelmingly positive and immediate,” Doetsch added. Other donors who quickly stepped up to fund these important improvements include the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Foundation, The Gilbert Geldman Family Foundation, the UMCH Board, as well as the head of the Pediatric ED and associate professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at UMSOM, Getachew Teshome, MD.

The fundraising, however, continues. Many of the children arrive with only the clothing they are wearing and stay for months at a time because there is nowhere else for them to go. The list to meet their needs is ongoing coupled with more needed staffing, all of which require continued financial support. If interested in making a philanthropic donation to children’s mental health care at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, please contact

Construction is slated to begin the first week of September. And in about nine months, “our Pediatric Emergency Department—which on average schedules 16,000 visits a year—will be able to care for children in distress in these new rooms,” Doetsch said. Architectural plans by CRGA Design include a new intake space comprised of four rooms for patient care, a dedicated play/occupational therapy room, a bathroom with a shower, and a work station for staff. The renovated area is targeted for completion in summer 2023.

UMCH is located at UMMC, the University of Maryland Medical System’s flagship academic hospital in downtown Baltimore.


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